Match Report: Liverpool 2 Bournemouth 1

After the toughest month of Liverpool’s season the Premier League champions elect managed to get back on track at Anfield thanks to goals from Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, despite Callum Wilson scoring early to set off Anfield nerves.

Three defeats in the last four games threatened to taint Liverpool’s up to now dominant season.

After recent struggles Jurgen Klopp resorted to the strongest team he could with midfield three of Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum being preferred since skipper Jordan Henderson’s injury. 

Dejan Lovren dropped back down to the bench after the Watford game with Joe Gomez back in alongside Virgil Van Dijk, James Milner deputised at left back as Andy Robertson missed out as a late precaution ahead of some big games coming up. 

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Adrian continued in goal after the midweek FA cup defeat at Chelsea, number one keeper Alisson was ruled out with a hip injury sustained in training. 

Amid the COVID storm right now there were no handshakes pre-match, ensuring that the only thing Reds fans should be catching at Anfield today is a cold. 

Liverpool spent the first eight minutes camped on the edge of Bournemouth’s box, but it was The Cherries talismanic striker Callum Wilson who had the ball in the net first.

Following what looked like a ‘clear and obvious’ push from Wilson on Joe Gomez, some nice interplay from Phillip Billing and Junior Stanislas and a simple ball across the box, Wilson was free to tap in from yards out to open the scoring.

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Liverpool’s tough start continued shortly after as Adrian tipped Nathan Ake’s header from a corner onto the the crossbar, Bournemouth’s young Dutchman possibly should have done better.

Not long after and Liverpool started to turn the gears, a sumptuous ball with the outside of the boot from Trent Alexander Arnold set up Roberto Firmino on the half volley, but Bournemouth’s young stopper Aaron Ramsdale was equal to the Brazilian number 9.

Shortly after Liverpool did find their way back into the game when Sadio Mane capitalised on substitute Jack Simpson overrunning the ball on the edge of his own box, the Senegalese winger drove towards the box before playing a dreadful ball to Mo Salah, Liverpool’s Egyptian did brilliantly to salvage anything from the situation, let alone picking out the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Salah’s first half goal marked his 70th Premier League goal on his 100th Liverpool appearance in the competition. The Egyptian also has an impressive 27 assists in that time.  

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After conceding Bournemouth started to pile bodies forwards on the counterattack and it came back to haunt them just past the half hour mark.

Virgil Van Dijk intercepted a pass on the halfway line after Bournemouth committed too many men towards a counter, leaving an acre of space down the middle for Liverpool’s number four to slide a simple ball into for Mane, who gets on the end and strokes it into the net past a stranded Ramsdale.

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Minutes later and Liverpool went very close to putting the game away from Bournemouth before the half time whistle blew.

Mo Salah capped off an excellent first half performance when he cut inside from the right-hand side and floated a wonderful diagonal ball out for left back James Milner, Milner, never one known for dynamite finishing could do no more than hit his volley into the arms of the grateful keeper.

After an hour the pattern of the first half was almost repeated. Liverpool, who up to now had enjoyed all the possession almost had to pick the ball out of their own net out of nothing. 

Van Dijk and Gomez were caught flat footed at the back and Fraser raced onto a ball in behind the pair, Bournemouth’s diminutive Scotsman lifted the ball over the on-rushing Adrian, but James Milner proved his experience by getting back to hook the ball away before it crossed the line.

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The game started to get into a pattern all too familiar to Liverpool fans this season, other than a decent opportunity for Van Dijk from a corner Liverpool spent most of the half comfortable playing the ball around in front of the Bournemouth back line, despite the chagrin of fans on Twitter. 

In a half that was threatening to fizzle out, it was Sadio Mane who nearly sprung it back to life single-handedly. Mane received the ball from distance and let fly with an howitzer of a strike which rattled the Bournemouth corner of the Bournemouth crossbar.

Hearts were in their mouths at Anfield as the clock ticked to 90 minutes.

Bournemouth picked up a second ball on the edge of Liverpool’s box, Nathan Ake was slipped in with just Adrian to beat but the former Chelsea defender played it across to Callum Wilson who couldn’t put the ball away and made a mess of things. 

The flag did go up but replays showed that the goal would likely have stood had it gone to VAR – Typical.

On a late break to put a bow on the game, Salah played it across the box to Roberto Firmino, but Liverpool’s tricky Brazilian can’t buy an Anfield goal at the moment so he blazed it over, moments before the final whistle blew. 

On a day with a familiar tale, all that really matters is that the Reds got back to winning ways against a resolute Bournemouth team battling down towards the bottom of the league. 

A victory here broke an English top-flight record for the most consecutive home victories. Jurgen Klopp’s charges record of 22 consecutive Anfield wins beats out a 48 year record set by the legendary Liverpool side of 1972 under the tutelage of Bill Shankly. 

Next up for the Reds is a crunch home tie with Athletico Madrid at Anfield in the Champions League, with Athletico holding a 1-0 lead going into the tie, Jurgen Klopp’s men will need to be on top form if they want to have any chance of defending their Champions League crown.

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